Seeing Beyond the End of the World
Strange Days and
Until the End of the World
by S Brent Plate and Tod Linafelt


1. See Sidney Perkowitz, Empire of Light (New York: Henry Holt, 1996), pp. 191-3.

2. Levin, Jean Baudrillard (London: Prentice Hall, 1996), p. 18.

3. This language of survival comes from Derrida, particularly in "Living On/Border Lines," trans. James Hulbert, in Harld Bloom et al., Deconstruction and Criticism (New York: Continuum, 1979), pp. 75-176; and Robert Detweiler "Overliving," Semeia 54 (1992).

4. See James Mills, "The Serious Implications of a 1971 Conversation with Ronald Reagan." Quoted in Stephen O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 273 n.23.

5. "No Apocalypse, Not Now (full speed ahead, seven missiles, seven missives)" diacritics 14 no. 2 (1984): p. 23. Similarly, on the "rhetoric" of apocalypse, see Stephen D. O'Leary, Arguing the Apocalypse: A Theory of Millennial Response.

6. Derrida, "No Apocalypse, Not Now," p. 23.

7. Ibid.

8. Schell, The Fate of the Earth (New York: Knopf, 1982), p. 26.

9. There is a further similarity between the films in that Graeme Revell did the music for each film. This is not in itself terribly important, but when taken with the other similarities it begins to be clear that there were some strong borrowings of Until the End of the World by the Strange Days makers.

10. Wenders, The Logic of Images, trans. Michael Hofmann (Boston and London: Faber and Faber, 1991), p. 108. Emphasis added.

11. The Illusion of the End, trans. Chris Turner (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), p. 4.

12. Biblical critic Christopher Rowland echoes this question and allows us to connect it with the ancient genre of apocalypse when he states that "An apocalypse offered a basis of hope in a world where God seemed to be restrained, by unmasking the reality of what the past, the present, and the future of human history were actually about" (Revelation [London: Epworth, 1993], p. 20).

13. The desire for immediacy is apparent through this film. Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin begin a recent book with a survey of Strange Days and suggest that the device used in the film "bypasses all forms of mediation and transmits directly from one consciousness to another" (Remediation: Understanding New Media [Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999], p. 3).

14. Wenders, The Logic of Images, p. 108.

15. The Inoperative Community, trans., Peter Connor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), p. 10.

16 . Ibid.

17. Levin, Jean Baudrillard, p. 19.

18. Cf. Kaja Silverman, "To look is to embed an image within a constantly shifting matrix of unconscious memories." In The Threshold of the Visible World (New York and London: Routledge, 1996), p. 3.

19. In light of film and literary history, the name "Farber" is significant. Until the End of the World was made somewhat in response to Volker Schlondorf's film, Voyager, itself a response to Wenders' earlier, Paris, Texas. Schlondorf disliked the intense isolation of Paris, Texas and set his characters off around the world. Voyager is loosely based on a German novel published in 1959, Homo Faber by Max Frisch. The main character in the novel and Schlondorf's film, Walter Faber ("maker"), like the Max von Sydow character, is a scientist who allows his technological interests to take priority over his human relationships. Walter Faber too is a wanderer of sorts and the novel (and film) itself is set on multiple continents. When Wenders sets his characters around the world in Until the End, he shows an excessive global chase, almost as if he wanted to "one-up" Schlondorf. Wenders furthers the "one-upping" by naming his character "Farber," which could quite well be a mixture of the Latin "Faber" (maker) and the German "Farbe" (color), therefore becoming "the color maker," i.e., the "image maker."

20. Robert Horton, "Wim Wenders: on the road again," Film Comment 33 no. 2 (March/April, 1997), p. 4.

21. Wenders might even be said to be working toward a deconstruction of film (or at least a Hollywood style of film) when certain scenes are embarassingly poorly acted, directed, and edited. Throughout Faraway, so Close (1992) and Until the End, there are a number of scenes that are so forced and faked that one begins to think Wenders is simply a poor director. However, given the beauty of his earlier Wings of Desire or Tokyo Ga, it becomes necessary to re-view the poor scenes. What is found is that the particularly bad scenes are almost always scenes involving Hollywood-style violence and action, especially when guns or fighting (always between men) come into the picture. Wenders simply shows the absurdity of fight scenes, makes the male characters look pathetic rather than the macho hero of Hollywood film.

22. The Evil Demon of Images, trans. P. Patton and P. Foss (Annandale, Australia: Power Institute, 1987), p. 27. Quoted in Charles Levin, Jean Baudrillard, p. 18.

23. Jean Baudrillard, p. 18.

24. See "Plato's Pharmacy," in Dissemination, trans., Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981).

25. "Overliving," p. 241.

26. But just as there are more images in this longer version, there are more instances of the power of words. As Robert Horton points out, with the five-hour version "There's more of the Sam Neill character, who is now less an extraneous hanger-on and more an essential representative of the Word" ("Wim Wenders," p. 4).

27. Francis Beare, The Gospel According to Matthew (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1987), p. 474.


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